By Vincent Perez
Assistant Sports Editor
CSU Bakersfield volleyball middle blocker Sydney Haynes, 22, aspires to be in the same conversation as professional volleyball player and three-time Olympic gold medalist, Kerri Walsh Jennings.
“She’s such a powerful person. She stands up for what she believes in,” said Haynes. “She’s family-driven and she makes that known. I want to be her in the future.”
Haynes, a redshirt-senior, also wants a career in prosthetics. She is double majoring in physcal education and kinesiology.
Bakersfield is not Haynes’ birthplace, but she adopted it after the city impressed her, and said she loves Bakersfield.
Haynes is originally from Vancouver, WA and went to Evergreen High School. During her senior year, Haynes was heavily recruited by Seattle Pacific and University of Texas at El Paso before committing to CSUB in 2013. Haynes has earned accolades while on the CSUB volleyball team.
Last season, Haynes was named to the Western Athletic Conference All-Conference second team, played on the All-Tournament team at the Black Knights Invitational at University of California, Santa Barbara’s Thunderdome Classic and helped CSUB win the WAC tournament in 2014.
Haynes missed her junior year of beach volleyball due to a shoulder injury, which she had surgery for in November 2016.
This indoor season, Haynes is averaging 0.88 blocks per set and has 63 blocks total. She is second in team kills with 171. Haynes’ work ethic inspires her teammates on the court.
Senior libero, Emily Lopes, 20, watched Haynes work through her injury rehab to return to form.
“She’s been through her shoulder surgery. I’ve never seen someone come back the way she has. She works so hard,” said Lopes.
Lopes said Haynes is one of the best teammates she’s ever had and Haynes is 100 percent committed to CSUB volleyball. Haynes was there for Lopes when she struggled.
“She helped me last year and this year to gain confidence. Last year, I was the third setter. I came in not expecting to play very much. I got a chance to play in a few games.” Lopes said that she and Haynes always have a pre-game pump-up talk. The teammates go to Starbucks and motivate each other. Haynes also said that she gives her confidence on the court and she can talk to her about anything. Motivation for Haynes is easy for her to place.
“1000 percent my family. That’s why I wanted to go to college and get a scholarship. I knew that it would help my parents out – paying my own way through college.”
Haynes added, “I have a niece, Haven, 3, and she’s my motivation. I want to be her role model. Every day I walk in the gym, I think she could be watching me.”
The rest of Haynes’ family includes her parents, Sherri and Matthew and her younger sisters, Tyler and Bentley.
Family has been there for Haynes at her tournaments. Haynes remembered her favorite tournament.
“I would have to say when we went to Dayton, Ohio in 2014, the year we won WAC.”
2014 was Haynes redshirt-freshman year.
Haynes said, “That was one of those tournaments where we really struggled. Out of all the tournaments I’ve played in my life, that’s the one I learned the most from. We had a talk in the locker room [after the game] that changed our season. That talk helped us win the WAC that year.”
CSUB finished 0-3 in that tournament but the team learned from their mistakes.
Haynes shared a humorous trip story that the CSUB volleyball team had this season.
“We were on the way to LA at 3 a.m. and the Runner Bus broke down on the Grapevine.” Haynes said vans from CSUB came to pick up the players and take them to Burbank Airport.
She added, “We were so close to missing our flight, so six of us got in the van and we sped to Burbank [Airport]. As we were pulling in, our coaches jumped out of the van before it stopped. We ran inside, got through security, and somehow made our flight with two minutes to spare.”
Winning the WAC tournament in 2014 was Haynes favorite memory, more specifically beating New Mexico State University.
“We had a really up and down season that year. Beating New Mexico State paved the way for us to beat Seattle U in the championship because we had the confidence.”
Haynes said the team only had 11 players and it was a new team.
“It was an amazing experience and we were on our home court with all of our families here. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I will never, ever forget that.”
CSUB’s volleyball program will remember Haynes for a long time.
Former teammate, now graduate assistant coach, Molly O’Hagan talked about winning the 2014 WAC title with Haynes.
“It was a great experience for her to be on a winning team early on in her career. It’s helped set her up for where she is now. We had a team come together when it was important and had a great connection.”
O’Hagan was in her senior year in 2014.
Transitioning from teammate to coach, Haynes had no difficulty adjusting when O’Hagan was hired as a graduate assistant coach.
“It felt natural. Sydney has a high level of maturity. It helps me because we have a high level of respect for each other. To be in a different situation, it does not feel different. The transition was smooth.”
O’Hagan said she sees Haynes in five years with a successful beach volleyball career in her resume and continuing with prosthetics school.
When Haynes decided to attend CSUB, there was one important factor.
“We have beach volleyball here. Up north, none of the colleges had beach volleyball back then.
That’s my main sport. That’s what I want to do in the future.”
Haynes added, “I’d love to be in the Olympics. I want to try to play pro next year in the Association of Volleyball Professionals.”